Being a lover of all things food and local, when I heard about Big Shakes Hot Chicken & Fish in Franklin, Tennessee I knew I needed to try it out. Man, was I in for a treat! The food was freshly made to order so while I anxiously anticipated my hot chicken combo, I read some of the articles nearby about the restaurant and the owner, Shawn Davis aka Chef Big Shake. I was blown away by his story so I kindly asked to interview him and have him tell it to you. If you need encouragement to keep climbing the mountains in your way, keep reading. Tell me a little about how your career in the culinary arts started? Shawn: I grew up in Bayshore, New York. When I was 12 years old, my Mother decided I needed something to keep me out of trouble so she sent me to Long Island after hearing about a job opening at C.J. Palmero’s restaurant. The owner, Giovanni Palmero, quickly saw potential in me and took me under his wings. He showed me how to run and manage a restaurant. We became so close that he let me live with him for seven years so I could spend more time working one-on- one with him. He became not only my mentor, but like my second Dad. Who inspires you the most? Shawn: My Dad. He was a very hard worker. Growing up, he always working two or three jobs and really taught me the importance of being the best and doing things the right way. He didn’t cut corners; he worked hard to provide so our family could have a better life. I’m very much like him in that aspect. What was your experience like on Shark Tank? Shawn: I feel so blessed to have been chosen to be on the show. There are so many people out there making great products, I felt grateful for the opportunity. I first appeared on Shark Tank in March of 2011. At that time, I was wanting a $200,000 investment for a 25% equity stake in my CBS Foods Brand. I had already sold over 22,000 shrimp burgers and was looking to go nationwide in grocery stores. What did you learn from being on Shark Tank? Shawn: I learned that preparation is key. I didn’t have my facts and figures together. I didn’t have an “elevator pitch” about my company,CBS Foods, and my goals. I also learned that I needed to know as much as possible about my competitors so I could set CBS Foods apart from them. Although no offers were made by the Sharks, Mark Cuban, has said several times that not investing in the Original Shrimp Burgers has been his biggest regret on the show.
I know you have your hands are full right now. What are some projects we can expect from you later this year? Shawn: I opened Big Shakes Hot Chicken & Fish on the first day of the New Year and the support I have received in the community has been wonderful. I feel very blessed and grateful, because I am no different from anyone else working on living his or her dreams. For the past 2 years I’ve been working on a cook book. After being diagnosed with diabetes and watching two friends around my age recently pass away due to heart-related complications, I have decided to change directions and make the cook book about heart healthy recipes. It’s going to be all about low sodium meals that everyone will love. I’m also heading up a stadium tour with the Original Shrimp Burger in the Fall. We will start in MetLife Stadium, then go to Seattle, down to Texas, and Southern California. Since being on Shark Tank, you’ve sold over $1 million in product. How have you stayed grounded with all of your success these past few years? Shawn: My main focus is on providing for my family and staying passionate about what I love to do, which is cook. That I can make a living doing what I love AND supply a nice foundation for my family, that is what is important to me. What advice do you have for others starting out with an idea or passion that is “out of the box”? Shawn: Learn from me; know your field and competitors, and don’t give up. Where can we currently buy your products, other than at your website? Shawn: Wal-Mart will start carrying the Original Shrimp Burgers in Texas at the beginning of June. They will eventually make their way to the East and West Coasts, and probably hit the Nashville market in 2015. What is the best way we can support CBS Foods? Shawn: The best thing you can do is develop an entrepreneur mindset. Work toward your personal goals, but don’t be afraid to help others with their own dreams along the way. It was a pleasure interviewing Chef Big Shake. As you can tell, he is a back burner set a 9. He is incredibly humble and talented. For more info, visit: Big Shake’s Hot Chicken & Fish Chef Big Shake Facebook